Terii’s Cycling Babble


Fits and Starts
December 10, 2018, 1:04 pm
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

That’s how my riding has been going. Since my last post I’ve ridden 3 times, though as I type this, I’m starting to get dress for another ride where Jens will drop Loke and I off at the storage before heading to work. It will be 3 rides in 3 days. Really need it to get another 32 miles in before 11:59 pm, December 31st. If not, then 2018 will become the new ‘worst year ever’ for miles since getting my first Garmin to track such things. Too many things just went wrong this year, the months of intense summer heat being only one.

Yay! Proper flags! Bigger than half a hanky and prettier than orange plastic! 😀

Just a day or two after my last post, it finally happened! My flags arrived! I got a text that they were ready for pick up from the local post location which is at the back of the local grocery store. I was giddy as I dashed off to bring them home and get them unpacked.

Finally, after wanting flags like this for years, I had some. One brightly colored fan type and one little twirly thing that reflects flashes and headlights spectacularly. I didn’t get out for a ride right away. Part of it was the temp took a precipitous drop and oddly, I found myself feeling every little bit of the cold right down to my bones. It was an almost surreal experience given that I’ve spent the past years driving Jens crazy by leaving windows cracked even at 13 F or walking around without jacket, hat, gloves or scarf if it was warmer than 28 F if it was a calm day. Then suddenly, everyone else is more lightly dressed than me, the apartment is buttoned up and there I am burrowed under electric blankets complaining about the cold.

Jens did his level best to get me to ride, but if I was cold and shivering in a warm(ish) apartment then going out in 27 F temps with wind had zero appeal.

Fullerö Burial Ground, bird’s eye view.

It was a real shame too. We had absolutely stunning hoarfrost. I’m sharing a photo I took at Fullerö with the drone. It might not be from riding the trike there, but it’s just too pretty not to share. It was so cold, I was only able to stay out flying the drone for about 15 minutes before my fingers started to hurt. Still was fun though!

Loke, however, was not nearly as impressed. He laid around near my feet and looked annoyed at the drone’s buzz.

Another thing I did during this ‘not riding time’ was to make the drive to Falun, Sweden. 2 hours from Uppsala, give or take. Why? Because I was curious to see the area my great-grandfather and his fathers might have walked. The place is best known for the old copper mine there. Indeed, the mining history goes back over 1000 years. It started with just the local farmers digging for the metal for their own needs before it became the big business of the town to mine Stora Kopparberg (Big Copper Mountain) extensively.

Oh, you know all those lovely, old, red buildings scattered across the Swedish countryside I so often photograph? Well, the red color is called Falu red, named after the mine where the copper was originally taken to make the pigment.

The mine was closed down in the 1960’s. It had once been called Sweden’s Treasury and more than half of the copper in Europe from the middle ages until close to the Industrial Revolution originated from it. It had originally been a shaft mine, but in the summer of 1687, the mountain, so criss-crossed with tunnels it was like Swiss cheese, had a major collapse leaving a pit over 300 feet deep. Believe it or not, no one was killed. There were only two days of the year that the mine was closed. Mid-summer and Christmas. It happened on the evening of Mid-summer, so all the miners were off. After that, it was handled as a combination of open pit and shaft mining.

It was a nice trip. I saw a fox from very close and dozens of deer on the drive. I wandered around the edge of the pit and explored a bit of the town as well as a church, which I had believed to be Stora Kopparberg Church. Sadly, it wasn’t, but a slightly newer church. I guess that just gives me a reason to go back to the town and next time I’ll take my trike. It was a nice way to spend a day.

The hoarfrost hung around for the better part of a week. Maybe even two. My grasp of time gets fuzzy after it’s in the past. The frost was finally washed away when it warmed up and started raining. Except for a few spates of snow, it feels like it’s been raining almost constantly since then.

It was a bit of a relief when it warmed back up though. The frost had actually coated a lot of road surfaces and left them quite slick. Guess who didn’t have studded tires on the trike yet?

Finally, on September 30th, I felt ‘warm’ enough to think about going for a ride and there was no trace of ice to cause problems with non-studded trike tires.

Jens wheedled at me to walk Loke. I’d been walking Loke quite a lot at the time. Going for a walk in 30 F, I can just pull on a decent long sleeved shirt, decent pants, go out with a winter coat and maybe end up feeling too warm. Go out in the same temp for a trike ride, I need 2 layers of wool on the legs, 2 or 3 on the top, gloves, a beanie, cushy wool socks with wool sock liners, and yet will still probably come home and shiver. So, yeah, I preferred to walk when I’m already feeling chilled inside. Once above freezing again though, I finally decided to take pity on my aching hips and knees and ride instead.

The lack of ice made me happy not just because I still had my winter tires, but also for Loke’s sake. He has problems keeping his feet under him on the rough wooden floors of our apartment. Ice would really give him fits.

It was going to be the first ride with my new flags. I as I set them up though, I decided to leave my pretty fan flag in the garage. I just had an image of the wind snatching it off the pole to send it capering across a field faster than I could run. There was a little zip tie I could have fastened at the bottom, but that would have pulled the flag down over the first connector for the collapsible pole, making it difficult to fold it. I needed time to think of a solution.

Still, I was glad to go with my little orange and yellow whirly.

It was coming up on twlight as we rolled out. Loke was fairly slow and it took us over 40 minutes for 2.5 miles. Though there’d been no sign of ice anywhere around the paved surfaces in the neighborhoods I’d been walking with Loke, I found slush and ice both on the cycle path near the river. I spotted it before we rolled over it so was able to push over to the side and put Loke in the grass where he had good grip.

My next ride was on December 4th. Loke had been a bit more energetic for a few days, becoming a real PITA. It was enough to overcome the general apathy I had about getting out for rides. The persistent chill that often left me shivering, the feeling that I needed to get this done and that done to the trike. Sometimes I’d think of riding and then it would turn into, ‘Oh, but I need to figure out what I want to do with the rain poncho for bikes I got and.. just forget it.’

Along with the extra energy, I also realized it had been a while since Loke had any what I guess I would call ‘sound fits’. For a time it was like certain noises would make Loke’s synapses spark so he’d give little jerks as if being jolted with brief shocks. Maybe something like a micro seizure or something. The crumple of a paper bag. The dead bolt clacking in the lock when opening the apartment door. One day it was even the crunch of gravel under the trike wheel. That had him twitching like crazy as he walked along. It doesn’t cause him pain or any apparent distress. Honestly, he doesn’t even notice. Nothing the vets can do about it, so if he’s not hurting or freaked out, we just roll with it. As I said though, as of the 4th, he’d not had it triggered by anything in a few days.

I still hadn’t even made an appointment to get the tires swapped, so I decided I should get some more distance before the forecasted snow arrived.

The short days have been a bit maddening of late. It seems most of the time, I’m not able to think about going for a ride until about lunch time. Sunset is before 3 pm, but with the persistent and thick clouds we’ve had and lack of snow, it’s pretty dark even before 2:30 pm. Just adds to the apathy that any ride I take is going to be coming home in the dark. Still, Loke, the hyper 13 year old, needed exercise and I needed miles. So, out the door we went.

It was a very doggie ride. Early in the ride as we came by an apartment complex, a couple of older men were out with their small dogs. The gray-muzzled chihuahua was kinda growly and stand-offish with Loke, though he kinda seemed to want to come say hi to me. The other was a little gray, female poodle. She had no compunction about coming to greet me. Spotted me and scrambled right over to jump up on my tummy to give my face a thorough licking. She completely ignored Loke even when he nosed at her. Very people focused that one. Very cute. Her owner was pleased for the excuse to come over and greet Loke. With him, my furball was quite standoffish, but the man didn’t seem to mind.

We left the complex behind the rolled over the 55. As we came up to the big hill down to the river, there were two women talking on the side of the path with dogs. The one with what looked like a pitbull, also had a bike. Seeing us coming, she angled the bike to block her dog. As we rolled by, I was horrified. Not by the pitbull’s highly aggressive behavior, but by his head.  Half of the poor thing’s head swollen more than twice it’s proper size. It looked almost like a doggie version of Joseph Merrick (aka Elephant Man). Broke my heart.

The rest of the ride was uneventful. We took it slow since that’s about all Loke can manage now days, his average moving speed about 4 mph. I think he enjoyed it as we pedalled northward along the path beside the Fyris River just beyond the residential outskirts of Uppsala, Sweden. A light blowing mist of rain moved in a couple times, but not heavy or steady enough to get through the wool under layers I had on. We wound back up at the garage with 4.97 miles.

The only other thing of note was when we were on our way back to the park from the grocery area, there was a double glare of lights in my face on the cycle path. After a few minutes, I could make out that it was a tricycle. Like mine, it had 2 wheels in front with indirect steering, but unlike mine, it was an ‘upright’ trike, not reclined or ‘recumbent’. Attached to the side of it was a simple frame work that attached to the harness of a medium sized dog, keeping it a safe distance from the trike and it’s wheels in all directions. Turned out I recognized both the man and the dog. The last time I saw him though, he was on a bike with a little frame work and an extra wheel to one side, to keep his dog in a safe position with the bike. I guess I could say he just upgraded. Hehe.

After the ride, I drove to the cycle shop to see if they had any studded tires left and, if so, to make an appointment to get my tires swapped. Bobby was on vacation, but the other mechanic, who’s name other than ‘Skagget’ (The Beard) escapes me, was only too happy to help. It turned out though that they only had one 20 inch studded tire. That wasn’t any good. My old studded tires needed replaced. Bad enough they’d been poking holes in my tubes before Bobby shoved a section of old tubing between the tire and tubes, but the studs had become too worn to grip by the end of last winter.

There was another batch of 20 inch studded incoming at any time, so Neil (shop owner) said he’d give me a text when they arrived. They came that very evening, so back I went before they closed to make the appointment. I really needed those studs with the threat of ice and snow just a day or two away. I could drop the trike off on 5th.

I was there right as Neil was unlocking the door and starting to wheel out all the bikes he’d stored in the shop. A bit after lunch, he called to say the tires he’d gotten were ‘too chunky’ for my rims. He would need to order another two, slightly smaller, but was pretty sure they’d be there the next day (December 6th). Well, if that was what was needed, so be it. Finally, about 2 pm, I got the text my trike was ready for pick up. I didn’t have the car though. I considered for a few minutes, walking with Loke to the shop and pushing the trike, minus the seat, back to the apartment. Then I remembered, I’d also have to bring the summer tires with me. Walking along with a dog leash in one hand, pushing the trike with the other and trying to keep 3 tires from sliding off my shoulder as I plodded along for half a mile? Ummmm, I was gonna have to say no.

Jens agreed to let me have the car if I drove him on the 7th, so to be able to get the trike, that’s what I did. What an utterly miserable day. The promised snow hadn’t come, but we had drizzle and blowing mist aplenty beneath a pewter dark sky. I got the trike, but it was such an icky day that even if I’d not had laundry, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have taken the trike out.

Finally, December 8th, I made it out the door for another ride.

I had a reason to get the trike rolling other than the needed miles. My husband’s parents 51st wedding anniversary was on December 5th. We held off for the weekend to take them out to dinner so that the youngest daughter could come with us. That means, Loke was going to be at home alone for a couple hours. It’s always best to give him a bit of exercise before leaving him to his own devices.

So, even though it appeared it was going to be a twilight murk what with the clouds combined with precipitation alternating between a feather-soft misty drizzle and a light rain, I made ready to slog out the door a bit after 10 am with Loke in tow.

The furry one seemed pretty interested as I dragged on layers of wool against any possible rain as I’ve not yet taken the time to fiddle with the poncho.

Though very wet, it was about 45 F at the start. Loke quickly settled into his 4.3 mph pace as the trike vibrated along. Ah, just love studded tires when there’s no ice or snow.

At first, I was actually too warm even with the patter of light rain dampening my cycle clothes and wool under layer. That lasted until bout the time we hit the northward river extension. Suddenly there was wind enough to set my little spinner flag whirling furiously and I pulled out another layer of wool to drag on. Wind chill dropped the temperature around my Garmin from about 44 F to 34 F. Fortunately, I had the layers for it.

As I was coming back south along the river extension, the sky went from a flat iron-gray texture to having some detail in the clouds. With that, the rain finally tapered off and for the last half the ride, it was only the wind I had to deal with. Well, wind and a call of nature.

I swear, during the day when I’m not on the trike, I’m practically like a camel. Can go ages between nature calls. As soon as I sit on the trike it’s like my kidneys switch into overdrive with quadruple the output while my skin just pulls gallons of moisture out of the thin air. I went to the bathroom twice before finally going out the door for the ride, and yet 30 minutes later, there’s Mother Nature clearing her throat. By time I was 5 minutes from the apartment, she was screaming bloody murder I answer her. I’d had little to nothing to drink between breakfast and getting ready for a ride. It’s an ingrained habit just for that reason.

For Loke, the ride finished at about 4.47 miles. I desperately needed the restroom. Also, I was starting to feel a little short of time to get back home to clean up for the evening’s dinner out, so it was perfect to run in for the bathroom and leave Loke at home so I could finish that last half mile in less than 20 minutes. My total distance for the day was 5.02 miles.

I would have done more, but simply didn’t have the time.

Then, believe it or not, I went out again the very next day. Jens pleaded with me for it. My feet had been killing me though, so it was just a short little jaunt, less than 2 miles and Loke was back to harassing Jens before I even got his harness off.

This morning, with my feet feeling as if they’ve been flayed and then pounded with hammers, I really didn’t feel like hobbling around the block 5 or 6 times with Loke. I can’t even walk through the apartment without limping and lurching along while stars burst through my vision. I decided that, though still painful on the trike, it’s less painful, I would have Jens drop us off at the storage and I’d give Loke a couple rolling walks for his ‘business’ opportunities. I only pulled on the absolute minimum I thought I’d need for a short dash from storage to home. A longer outing could wait until we had some daylight.

It was pretty much dark when I was pushing the trike out of the storage and up the ramp. Not a hint of the approaching dawn to be seen at all. Loke waited patiently as I got the lights and flags settled. I felt comfortable enough even in my lesser layers at 33 F, I decided we would at least do the little swimhall loop all on the east side of the river. Usually, I take the little street down to the cycle path by the football fields, but with school traffic and Loke being so slow, I decided to ride along the sidewalk instead. Actually, I rode in the grass where Loke could mark the trees and sniff.

Unexpectedly, it felt pleasant out and to be on the trike. I wasn’t cold in the least though I would have thought myself woefully underdressed given my recent sensitivity to cold. I also felt stronger and more comfortable on the trike than I had yesterday. Whimsically, I decided I was just going to do the River Loop by turning right at the end of the street instead of left onto the cycle paths.

Loke seemed fine with that idea, ticking along at about 4 mph. I think he rather enjoyed getting out in the pre-sunrise. We weren’t fast, but it was still nice so I decided to just do the old and very basic River Loop hamster track again. I even considered heading along the out-n-back going north along the river, but decided I didn’t want to push Loke that much while hoping to do the newer River Loop jaunt which goes through downtown.

There was a little surprise as we came back along the river heading past the swimhall with its beautifully lit bridge over the river between the pool complex and parking lot. Snowflakes. Honestly, I only noticed them as we were crossing a street at the corner of the swimhall and passed in front of a car that was waiting for us to get over. The tiny flakes were clearly highlighted in the headlights where they’d been invisible in the murky gloom of pre-dawn.

Of course, it’s so easy to be up at ‘pre-dawn’ in December. Sun didn’t rise until 8:40 this morning. Will be about 8:50 am for the Solstice. Still, I count it a more than fair trade for the 20 hours between sunrise and sunset during summer. Love me some Swedish summer.

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